Wildfires Wreak Havoc Across The West

Bend,OR: Minimizing campfire impacts is as important as ever in the American West.

“For the last 10 years, an average of about 3,500 human-caused wildfires have burned an average of approximately 400,000 acres of National Forest System land annually, with most caused by campfires.” - U.S. Forest Service Website

Yesterday we, The Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Team West, drove from Glide, OR to Bend, OR. Our 3 hour road journey routed us along the edge of a major wildfire burning near Crater Lake National Park. Our destination, Bend, OR is also surrounded by raging wildfires. You might say we are currently in a ring of fire!

If you live in the west, wildfires are not a foreign sight. However for those who don’t and/or have never lived out west, here is a glimpse into what it’s like to be in wildfire country.

You can look directly at the sun through the smoke. Sunsets are gorgeous. The moon turns bright orange at night. Radio stations give regular updates on air quality conditions due to smoke. Fire crews are a familiar sight at the edge of wilderness areas. Communities rally around fire fighters to show their support. Smoke fills the air. When it is all over, the trees are burnt to a crisp. We are asking you to be a good steward in the outdoors by reviewing the following principles before heading out on your next adventure.

Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.

Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.

  • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.

  • Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.

  • Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.

“The Forest Service and other public lands agencies respond to tens of thousands of wildfires per year. Each year, an average of more than 73,000 wildfires burn about 7.3 million acres of private, state and federal land and more than 2,600 structures.” - U.S. Forest Service Website

Click here to learn more about how the US Forest Service manages fires.

Current fires burning via satellite

NASA's Aqua satellite collected this natural-color image with the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, MODIS, instrument on August 19, 2015. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red. NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC. Caption by Lynn Jenner

Northwest Fire Situation Interactive Map

Curious if you're driving into a wildfire? The Northwest Large Fire Interactive Map is a great tool to locate fires near you.

Wildfires captured burning through the night

This image was acquired in the early morning local time on August 19 with the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite(VIIRS) sensor on the Suomi NPP satellite. The image was made possible by the instrument’s “day-night band,” which uses filtering techniques to observe dim signals including those from wildfires. Labels point to the large, actively burning fires in the region.

Real Time Webcam View of Crater Lake

From the Sinnott Memorial Overlook webcam, 7100 feet above sea level, you can view Wizard Island, Llao Rock, and at times you can see Mount Thielsen outside the park. The screen capture from the webcam shows the smoke over Crater Lake. 

We all love campfires. At Leave No Trace we simply ask that you build and maintain them responsibly in areas where they are allowed. Thanks for your consideration and cooperation.

Enjoy your world!

Jenna and Sam - Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer West Team

Leave No Trace’s Jenna Hanger and Sam Ovett are part of the 2015 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, Deuter, Hi-Cone, REI, Smartwool, The North Face, and Yakima.